The other day, and I don't remember which day, my right leg started to hurt. Just randomly shooting pain from somewhere in my hip or thigh area, I guess. It didn't seem like a big deal at first -- I'd been driving a lot, and sleeping erratically, so I assumed I'd passed out on the couch at an inopportune angle and twisted myself up a little.
Then it got worse. I couldn't lift my leg up to put pants on, I had to sit down and hoist my leg into the pantleg with my hands. I walked with a limp. I started to really worry. I couldn't get comfortable when I laid down to sleep, so I slept even worse, so I felt fuzzy and out of sorts. Then at some point yesterday my brain dolloped a cherry on the shit sundae by whispering "maybe it's a blood clot." And I spent the rest of the day trying to function as a human being with a clanging railroad crossing warning bell in my skull going MAYBEITSABLOODCLOTMAYBEITSABLOODCLOTMAYBEITSABLOODCLOTMAYBEITSABLOODCLOTMAYBEITSABLOODCLOTMAYBEITSABLOODCLOTMAYBEITSABLOODCLOTMAYBEITSABLOODCLOT
I was gonna get up this morning and call my doctor. Then last night, I had to put the cat in the basement, because my mother-in-law's visiting with her goofy, cat-food-eating dog. As I lunged under my bed to get the justifiably freaked-out cat, and stretched my body, I felt what I can only describe as a socketing. Something went "pop" and was back where it was supposed to be. Some piece of skeletal furniture came up off a live wire and let it breathe. Almost instantly, I felt better.
I didn't say a word about it, because I didn't believe it. I have a tour in two weeks. I have a lot of driving to do. I routinely pick up a forty-pound kid and perambulate around the house (and up stairs) with her in my arms. Things are not allowed to break right now. They're just not. But I woke up this morning, put weight on it, and hey, shit works.
My aorta dissected in 2004, and I almost died. They had to replace one of my heart valves with one from a pig, which lasted till 2013. Now I have a mechanical valve that ticks like a turn signal and never stops. I didn't really process until much later that I shouldn't have survived the 2004 dissection at all. When I somehow did, I had no right to expect to be ambulatory, able to pick up forty-pound kids, and cleared to drive off on hellish all-night highway runs to ridiculous comedy shows in the hinterlands.
Since 2013 I've tried to run at 150%. I set up a DVD taping (a really poorly-advised DVD taping, but a nicely-set-up show, if I may say so) while still recovering and just out of ICU. I chafed the day of release when they delayed my paperwork a few hours. I was back on stage a week later, still wearing my "heart hugger" vest to clutch my incision together when I sat down, stood up, or sneezed.
Now I work ten times harder than you, I raise my kids better than you, I love better, I drive further, I drink harder, I write in big loopy confessional swirls like this one. That's the panic in the back of my mind telling me to move, to go, to stop wasting daylight. I spent 40 years not feeling like my life had even started and now I'm wrapping my head around the fact that I've aged out of things I really wanted to do. Or have I? Don't know. Can't talk. Running.
What I have not done is, like, actually run. Or take better physical care of myself. Or drink enough water or get enough sleep. Part of the last two years of revving the engine and screaming down the mountain has revolved around a lot of denial and a weird streak of half-assed dirtbag macho that I didn't know I possessed and am not very proud of. I didn't hear much from that particular voice in my head yesterday, when I had to lift my right leg into the car with my hands because my muscles wouldn't do it.
I'm not saying this is some road-to-Damascus moment and that next year I'll be a gym rat with an inspiring fitness journey to yell at you about. I'm just... gonna try to get some sleep. And go for more walks. And do better. I love most of the things in my life. I've gone through a lot and been spared much of the emotional pain that my friends suffer. I'm loved, I'm reasonably well-adjusted, I enjoy what I do, and I 've been luckier than any hundred people deserve.
I want to do all this, more, forever. And I can't if I'm sick or in pain. I definitely can't if I'm dead. So hi. I'm 43 years old and I'm gonna start acting like it, at least in the preventative maintenance department. Hopefully that idea socketed back into place when my leg decided to start working right again, and it'll keep transmitting merrily alongside all the other ones that tell me to chase dreams, drink coffee and tell dirty jokes.
Love you dopes, see you on the road.
Where I write about the stuff I do when I'm out doing the stuff I do.